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Taste of the Union: Vegan Fare

When you think of the Wisconsin Union, you may think of the Ginger Root team serving its famous sesame chicken or der Rathskeller with its burgers and cheese curds. But, did you know that Union South’s and Memorial Union’s restaurants and cafes have many delicious vegan options that, whether you’re vegan or not, will have you writing odes to veggies? We had our entire community’s dietary needs in mind when we created our menus. I tried some of the vegan fare at Memorial Union and Union South to give you a first-hand look at each item. (It’s a hard job, but somebody’s gotta do it.)

Der Rathskeller’s Marinated Mushroom Melt can be easily customized to be vegan.

Marinated Mushroom Melt – der Rathskeller at Memorial Union
Marinated portabella mushrooms, red onion, sweet peppers and tomato on grilled marble rye. Sounds good, doesn’t it? This juicy sandwich is available at der Rathskeller, and, though it comes with dill Havarti cheese, this can be removed upon request to be made vegan.

Thai Noodle Salad – Ginger Root at Union South
Did you know there’s a delicious vegan option waiting for you inside Ginger Root? The Thai Noodle Salad can be made vegan simply by taking away the noodles. While this may seem counterintuitive due to the item’s name, the salad is packed with other fresh ingredients that will fill you right up. The salad includes edamame, carrots, red onions, cucumber, broccoli, mandarin oranges, sesame seeds and a Thai dressing. Up your salad game by adding delicious tofu.

Farmer’s Market – Harvest Grains at Union South
If sandwiches are more your thing, Harvest Grains has what you’re looking for. The Farmer’s Market deli sandwich is made up of grilled mushrooms, spring greens, tomatoes, red onions and hummus on honey-cracked wheat bread. Harvest Grains also offers an apple or carrots as a side for your sandwich.

BBQ Jackfruit Sandwich – the Sett and Harvest Grains at Union South; and the BBQ Stand at the Memorial Union Terrace (open seasonally)
Despite the fact that most BBQ sauces are vegan, they’re generally slathered over some sort of meat, forcing vegans to miss out on the glory of BBQ. But jackfruit, a relative of the fig, can be prepared to taste like pulled pork! I didn’t believe it was possible at first, but tasting is believing. At the Sett, Harvest Grains and the BBQ Stand, Jackfruit BBQ Sandwiches topped with red peppers and pineapple can be made vegan with the removal of the bun and coleslaw. The sandwich looks and tastes like a BBQ pulled pork sandwich, and, I swear, the jackfruit melts in your mouth.

The Quinoa Black Bean is a favorite made-to-order salad at Carte.

Quinoa Black Bean Salad – Carte at Memorial Union
One of Memorial Union’s newest additions to dining, Carte, provides a variety of options for vegan Union-goers. The Quinoa and Black Bean Salad is nothing short of a delight with quinoa, black beans, grilled tofu, edamame and red onion tossed in sesame dressing and topped with sesame sticks. Cherry tomatoes and dried cranberry add a bit of subtle sweetness to this veggie-based salad, and grilled tofu makes sure to keep you full with plenty of protein. As an added bonus, all salads at Carte are made with locally-sourced greens. Carte also offers a build-your-own salad option, so the vegan possibilities are endless.

Vegan Fare at your Union

Despite attending school in a state where it often feels like life revolves around brats and cheese, the Union’s dining team works to make sure dining options are inclusive to all diets. With menu items available at both of our buildings and our dining options across campus, eating vegan is an option no matter where your schedule takes you during the day. If you aren’t sure if a certain menu item meets your dietary needs, our dining team is more than happy to provide any information you may need.

Plan your next Union dining experience by visiting union.wisc.edu/dine.

Author: Marissa Sugrue

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